Wednesday, June 24, 2009

White Coat Ceremonies

Well, considering my dream, and the fact that the Touro White Coat Ceremony is drawing closer, I thought I would research a little more about the ceremony. I was surprised to learn that the ceremony was first performed in 1993, and is now practiced in over 100 medical schools. The idea behind the ceremony is that it lends identity and unity to the profession, and reminds physicians to lead their lives and practice medicine honorably and ethically. The ceremony was founded by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation at Colombia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The foundation sought to focus on medical students and residents so as to positively influence young physicians and instill humanistic principles.

The ceremony itself includes several elements. There is the recitation of a medical oath (Hippocratic, Osteopathic), which represents the public acknowledgment by the students of the responsibilities of the profession and their willingness to assume such obligations in the presence of family, friends, and faculty. Students are cloaked in their first official white coats, there are notable speakers who address ethics and responsibilities in medicine, and after the ceremony there is a reception for the faculty, students, families, and speakers. Some schools also equip students with engraved stethoscopes and White Coat Ceremony pins.

Surprisingly, there is some debate about the benefit of this contemporary tradition - most notably a sense of elitism, premature recitation of the oath and celebration, and encourages antiquated notions such as paternalism. There is a really interesting article by the BMJ Journal of Medical Ethics about it. Personally I think sure, it might be a tad elitist, welcoming a select few into the secret doctor world that lay people don't understand, but it'll be fun and is a nice way to encourage camaraderie within the profession. Plus, it's a big deal, starting medical school - I don't see much wrong with celebrating the path we are about to take.

By the way, the Journal of Medical Ethics is FREE and viewable after registering with the website. It has a lot of nice reading material.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Closer and closer

Now that it is getting closer to the orientation (August 3rd), we have our class listservs up and everyone is posting information about themselves. It is great how connected everyone can be through facebook and email - the internet is really amazing for networking. Though, it seems the hottest topic for everyone is finding roommates or comparing housing prices. This will be my smallest class since 8th grade - my high school class numbered around 400, and at UCSD over three thousand. Now? Probably between 125 and 200 students. I am really hoping to get to know a lot of people and feel an actual comradery, maybe even a sense of school spirit.

As much as I am looking forward to it, I am already having nightmares about medical school. In the first, I did not have a white coat for the opening ceremony and there were 15 minutes left before everyone was meeting in the auditorium - frantic scrambling ensued. The second dream starred me as a new physician out in the world, and I had no regular patients and couldn't even dress wounds or put my password into the computer to look up a patient chart. I thought these jitters were supposed to happen in a few weeks? July 26th is when everything begins for the most part - I officially end my employment with Kaiser and begin moving my stuff back home.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Productive Day

Well, one of my tasks was very simple, the other much more frustrating. The matter of getting my immunization records was a hassle because I am no longer a member of the HMO which holds all the records of my immunizations, and because I was a member of two different regions, Northern and Southern California. I was on the phone for forever, getting shuffled around until I finally ended up at member services and I was told I could send the form to them and they would give it to my old doctor. I heard this from Northern California. So I tried to do it down here, assuming it would be the same, and I was told it would not be possible to have a doctor sign it because I am no longer a member. I am now stuck sending official immunization reports from the office of medical records, and hoping Touro accepts them and is able to put two and two together. On the plus side, I was driving to so many different Kaiser locations that I came across one that was having a blood drive, so I stopped to donate and get an ice cream coupon! Blood for ice cream, a very sweet deal. I also got some art supplies, so I can work on creative endeavors in my spare time. I also made my appointment to see a D.O. for a physical (Osteopath pride!) - July 23rd, and she's a graduate of Touro University (California)!

The second task, which involved calling Wells Fargo and sorting out my student loan situation, was much more pleasant. I got my loan application numbers, got my Master Promissory Notices, and took out that second loan for $13,500 which will be at 7.5% interest, lower than the "recommended" Federal PLUS loan for graduate and professional students, which has a fixed interest rate of 8.5%. The title of that loan is MedCAP (Medical College Access Program, an alternative loan for health professionals). I knew my history and good credit with Wells Fargo would pay off. It's a shame I didn't qualify for a Perkins loan (issued by the school, $2,000 maximum per year, fixed 5%) but maybe if I file early enough next year I will get it and/or a grant.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Baby steps

I must admit, I am a bit of a procrastinator. Not just with studying, but with everything, including financial aid and certification deadlines. Each time that I nearly do not make a deadline is a lesson, and usually I learn. I think I am slowest with snail mail correspondences. I finally mailed the financial aid award letter back to Touro, indicating that I accepted the $8,500 federal subsidized and $32,000 federal unsubsidized Stafford loans. Based on my calculations and some estimates from Touro, I will need about $13,500 more from a private loan to cover personal expenses, equipment and texts, plane flights for Kit, car maintenance and gas, health insurance, etc. It may be more than I need, but I'd rather have extra than not enough. I need to call Wells Fargo tomorrow and see how to go about dealing with them, since I don't know what information they want from me and I don't think I am supposed to fill out an entirely new loan application (at least not for the Stafford stuff) - just sign the Master Promissory Notice. I also need to call a doctor within my PPO to get a physical for school. Joy.

Now, I need to decide how to best spend my time, as I am starting to feel a bit listless with so little to do. I could work on my book list, keep collecting insects, computer games, cook new things...I have writer's block so that is frustrating. In two weeks I will be going to Monterey with the family for a week, then I will be going back for the 4th of July, and then at the end of July I move back home. I kind of wish I weren't going back for the 4th, since it's a whole week that I could be spending with Kit AND working, and I'll be living with the family for the next four years... The 4th wasn't my idea. At least I'll have summers - it'd be nice to leave home next summer and spend the months with Kit. Such a long road...but it'll be worth it (my new mantra).